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Sunday, April 30, 2017


5 stars out of 5

I'm not sure how well I'd like Amos Decker - the emotionally flawed "hero" in this, the third installment of a wonderful series - but he fascinates the heck out of me. So much do I hang on his every word and action, in fact, that I stayed up an hour past my bedtime just to finish this book. Yes, folks, it's that good.

Decker appeals to me on many levels, not the least of which is that when he took a huge hit in his debut NFL game, he became an "acquired savant" with hyperthymesia. Besides that, he has synesthia abilities - meaning he is able to associate colors with people and objects. That's enough to hold my attention; but wait, there's more. He's also a native Ohioan (as am I), played football at The Ohio State University (go Bucks!) and his injury came after a hit during his debut game with the Cleveland Browns (from whom, based on this season's NFL draft, I'm expecting good things this fall). Besides that, there's yet another personal association: His FBI partner's last name is Jamison - my late mother's maiden name. How cool is all that?

But back to the nitty gritty. Here, Decker hits the ground running with a hit of another kind: As he's walking toward FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C., he spots a man and woman walking toward each other. Nothing wrong with that, he thinks - until the unthinkable happens; the man pulls a gun and shoots the woman, then points it toward himself and pulls the trigger.

And then comes another surprise. Decker and his team had been working solely on cold cases, but suddenly, their world changes as they're relocated from Quantico to the D.C. Field Office and assigned to investigate and solve the shooting (in part as a result of his injuries, Decker intensely dislikes change). Big problem is, even after substantial digging, they can find no connection whatsoever between the killer and his victim, a substitute school teacher and Hospice volunteer. And the man who killed her still seems to be a loving husband, father and successful business owner - with nothing in his past that would provoke him to commit murder, much less suicide. At the same time, Decker's personal life, or what little he has of it, gets complicated as Alex finds the two of them an apartment in a fixer-upper old building in which a former tenant was killed in a drug deal gone bad.

The murdered woman becomes more interesting, though, when they discover that her past extends for only about 10 years; prior to that, there's no record of her at all.  But then, Defense Intelligence Agency agent Harper Brown shows up - and she's not wanting to share the investigation with Decker and his team. Apparently, the DIA has been digging for dirt on the same people, trying to prevent what they suspect could be an upcoming, and very deadly, terrorist attack.

Needless to say, Decker isn't much into sharing either (and he certainly doesn't trust the DIA agent), so attitudes get rather testy until both sides reluctantly realize they'll get a better outcome by playing nice. Even then, it's a race to the finish with one faction trying to one-up the other; the big question is, can they all get to the bottom of things before something terrible happens? 

Also needless to say, that's a question I'm not going to answer - you'll just have to read it for yourself to find out. I'll also emphasize that while this one can be read on its own, I think readers will get more out of it by reading the other two first (The Last Mile, No. 1, and Memory Man, No. 2. They're both excellent as well, so enjoy!

The Fix by David Baldacci (Grand Central Publishing, April 2017); 560 pp.

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